Rebuttals to Klein's claim Israel profits from chaos

Naomi Klein perhaps exaggerates the positive impact of Palestinian terrorism on the Israeli economy ["Israel thrives, Gaza suffers", June 21-28]. It's true that the endless stream of suicide-bombing attempts, highway snipings, and rocket attacks has forced Israel to develop counter-measures, which the rest of the world now wants to buy. On the other hand, checkpoints, barriers, and aerial surveillance cost a staggering amount of money that Israeli taxpayers would be happy to spend on other things. Hamas and Hezbollah may also be the root cause of Israel's expertise at trauma medicine, but at an appalling cost in lives, Palestinian and Israeli alike.

> Glenn Bullard / New Westminster

So, Naomi Klein has come up with the original theory that Israel profits mightily from its situation of being surrounded by Arabs who want to destroy it.

No mention that Israel turned over Gaza to the Palestinians without any quid pro quo. No mention that Israel is a leader in all aspects of high tech. No mention that many large companies like Intel, Motorola, IBM, Microsoft, Alcatel, and 3Com all have research-and-development facilities in Israel.

No mention that 20 percent of the country's work force are university graduates, the highest proportion in the world after the U.S. Israel has the world's highest percentage of engineers (135 per 10,000 people, compared with 85 per 10,000 in the U.S.) and, with 28,000 physicians, by far the highest number of medical doctors per capita in the world. In addition, Israeli academics publish more scientific papers in international journals (110 for every 10,000 persons) than any other country in the world.

But Klein alleges that "the chaos in Gaza”¦doesn't threaten the bottom line in Tel Aviv and may actually boost it." No mention of the dislocations to the Israeli economy of having to defend itself from periodic attacks, having to take reservists away from their occupations, having to periodically evacuate certain cities as Iranian-backed terrorists lob missiles across the border. No mention of the threats from possible Iranian nuclear weapons.

Why doesn't she mention any of this? Because to anti-Semites (even Jewish ones), the Israelis are the new Shylocks. Driven, like Shylock, into a business Klein disapproves of, the Jew-Israelis are now making "profits" from the suffering (even the blood) of others. Thank you, Ms. Klein, for yet another adaptation of the anti-Semitic blood libel, that Jews drink the blood of Christians/Muslims/whoever.

> Howard Rotberg / Vancouver

Naomi Klein's article "Israel thrives, Gaza suffers" paints a dangerously misleading image of Israel as a nation that not only benefits from war but relishes it.

The fact is that war and violence have had a direct, negative impact on the Israeli economy. The two most recent examples of this have been the al-Aqsa Intifada of 2000 and the war in Lebanon last summer. The intifada, with its daily suicide bombings claiming over 1,000 innocent Israeli lives, destabilized the Israeli economy and sent it into a recession for the first half of this decade. Last summer's war in Lebanon also slowed Israel's economic growth. In fact, the recent success of the Israeli economy is due to the relative tranquillity brought by the security fence (which has prevented suicide bombers from attacking Israel) and the truce with Hezbollah along the northern border.

Defence companies may have contributed to the resurgent growth of the Israeli economy, but that does not mean that Israel is a militarist state. Every Israeli would rather be back in the peaceful '90s, when instead of giving the world the security systems to protect itself from terror, Israel gave the world the cellphone and Pentium processor.

Israel, like Canada, is a free and liberal democracy that encourages and rewards individual creativity, meaning that Israel's economy will continue to adapt to whatever new challenges it faces.

> Jonathan Hollander / Richmond